Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 26, 2016

Refinish hardwood floors like a pro

Do It Yourself

April Sherrill

I can remember being a little girl and running through my grandmother’s home dragging a toy across the hardwood floors, or putting on my tap shoes so I could tap in the hallway. She would always catch me and proceed to shame me with her strong southern voice while calling my whole name. I miss this woman dearly.

With her in mind, every time my husband and I go through a home with old hardwood floors I instantly think about my grandmother’s home. I will never forget all three of her sons getting together to refinish them either! 

They were always building or doing something. Once my father found his “forever home,” he placed real hardwoods there as well. Hardwood floors are amazing, and quite easy to maintain.

That is where everyone usually stops. They love the look and feel of real hardwood floors, but reality is if you are going to have them, then they need to be maintained for protecting the floor and extending the life.

Refinishing a hardwood floor is a great way to bring new life to a floor that is showing too much wear and tear, or if it needs a good finish. 

Items needed:

– drum sander

– floor edger

– buffer

– hand scraper

– nail set

– vacuum

– floor coater and trim pads

– wood filler

– terry cloth towels

– stain

– shellac

– Polyurethane

Please have approximately seven days to allow for the entire process, mainly curing.

First, you will need to remove the majority of the existing stain. Using an 8” drum sander and a 36 grit sanding belt; start sanding in the direction of the boards. Always put the sander in motion before the putting the belt on the floor to prevent uneven sanding. Two to three passes on each area should be enough to remove any old stain. Every once in a while you might find an area you need to work on a little bit more. 

The belt sander will only be able to go so close to walls without bumping them, or without damaging the floors. A good rule of thumb is to leave the 5” perimeter around the wall edges. 

Next, you will use the hand floor edger to sand right up close to the walls. This will also work great for any other spaces the drum sander was too large to reach. As with the drum sander, make sure to use 36 grit discs.

After sanding, grab the nail set and the nail sink tool that comes with them and make sure there are not any nails sticking up in any places. Use the nail set to sink them below the surface of the wood.

Next, use wood filler to fill any holes, cracks, crevices, etc. While the wood filler dries, give the floor a quick vacuum.

Now, repeat the process of sanding with the drum sander, but use an 80-grit pad this time. Of course, this includes any hand sanding that will need to be done.

After the sanding is completed, you will need to quickly go over all the floors, getting as close to the walls as possible with a floor buffer and 120 grit buffer pad.

Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum, and vacuum some more. I cannot stress enough how important vacuuming is for re-staining floors. Do not only concentrate on the floors. Concentrate on the area as a whole since dust travels so easily. You do not want dust to fall from the walls or ceiling fixture while the stain is drying.

Apply the stain using a staining pole or just terry cloths. Frankly, grab latex gloves and go to town with a terry cloth. This is by far the easiest way to stain floors, and how many of the pros do it. 

The stain only needs to sit for about five minutes to penetrate. After that, wipe up the excess stain, wiping in the direction to the wood grain. Work in long, thin strips.

After the stain has dried in two to three hours, check the color. If after one coat of stain the floor is the color you desire, then proceed forward; if not then apply another coat of stain and wait the appropriate drying time.

Two to three hours after the last coat of stain dries you can apply a coat of shellac. Use floor coaters for the open areas and trim pads for around the perimeter. The shellac will prove a nice seal coat that will dry hard and bond with the polyurethane.

Once the shellac has dried, move forward on applying a coat of polyurethane, which you will apply in the same manner as the shellac. Again, work in long thin strips to ensure even coats across the floor. Applying two coats of polyurethane will be plenty.

Your floors are now officially refinished! Attach shoe molding around the baseboards, and allow plenty of time for curing before moving furniture back into the space. It will take 7 days to reach full cure, and until that time the floor is susceptible to scuffing. The floor is ready for light foot traffic after 24 hours.


– Each sanding belt covers approximately 250 sq. ft.

– When using the hand sander, double stack the pads so you can take one off quickly and keep working.

– Thoroughly shake the containers to mix any ingredients very well.

– Area rugs can slow the curing process and should not be placed down until 7 days of curing.

– Make sure to change the furnace filter after refinishing.

 April Sherrill is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald. Contact her at april@dailydata.com.